Oh. Hey everybody. It’s been a while . . . but the nutshells are back on the table!
“Wow what a millennial. Not only does Paul leave a mess everywhere he eats, he also probably doesn’t wash his hands when eating nuts at the bar.”
Speaking of washing my hands, THANK THE MANYFACED GOD that the bleeping offseason is done. It’s terrible. So many stories based off quotes. Not actual games. And the preseason isn’t much better. So now that we’ve got a real football game to look back at, here’s what I saw yesterday.
Let’s take another look at the picture at the top of this post:
I’m guessing that was Jay Cutler’s face all game. The Texans sacked him 5 times (2 by Whitney Mercilus, 1 by Jadeveon Clowney, 1 by John Simon and another from a blitzing A.J. Bouye. Blitz Bouye more, please) and for the most part kept Cutler’s howitzer arm in check. And if Jay is saying things like this after the game . . .
. . . You’ve got to feel pretty good. Because Jay makes ME seem like a rainbow of sunshine.
Speaking of rainbows, look at Will Fuller’s first regular season game! He shook off a terrible drop towards the end of the first half with a couple of impressive plays: a 20 yard catch in traffic that set the Texans up inside the Bears 10 (no touchdown though, more on that later), his 27 yard catch and run touchdown on a screen, and a 7 yard catch that he stretched to 35 yards with a broken tackle and a nice juke. We all know how fast he is, but his ability to run with the ball after the catch is perhaps MORE impressive. Between DeAndre Hopkins and Fuller, Brock Osweiler has himself quite the offense.
It didn’t feel this way while watching the game live, but the Texans were surprisingly good on third down. They finished the game 12-20, which allowed them to dominate in time of possession (36:19). For the most part, the Texans stayed “on schedule”. They found themselves in plenty of third and short situations. And they CRUSHED those spots.
There is no way that last year’s offense pulls that off.
The Bears defense wasn’t very good last year, and I doubt it’ll improve this year despite the upgrades they made in their front seven. Still, I liked what I saw out of Brock Osweiler in this game. He made some nice throws, some plays with his feet, and was making all the correct decisions at the line of scrimmage. Take the touchdown pass to Fuller. Osweiler said after the game that they’d audible to that call if the Bears showed blitz. Once they revealed their hand, Osweiler put the offense in the best position to succeed.
J.J. Watt was . . . there. And while he was starting to make plays towards the end of the game (he played all but 5 plays), he wasn’t the J.J. Watt we typically see Sundays. He’s rusty and that’s to be expected. After all, the guy had back surgery about a month ago. But it’s weird to see J.J. as just another guy. Sean Pendergast of The Triple Threat mentioned this to me during the Texans post game Sunday: this might be the first time when we look at the radio highlights that Watt’s name was nowhere to be found. That said, he was making his presence known towards the end of the game.
I’m not really sure what to make of the offensive line. They paved the way for Lamar Miller’s great first half: 15 carries for 83 yards. Unfortunately, that ground success didn’t continue in the second half (Miller finished with 106 on 28 carries). And for the most part, they were solid in pass protection. But they still allowed a couple of sacks and had a couple of extremely sloppy moments. I could live with 16 weeks of similar play, and when Duane Brown eventually returns things should improve.
Most frustrating for the offensive line? The penalties that put the offense in some impossible third and longs.
- On their 2nd drive, a Chris Clark hold then Derek Newton false start put the Texans in a 2nd and 30 situation. They’d punt
- On their 3rd drive, a red zone trip was thwarted by a DeAndre Hopkins offensive pass interference call. After facing a 1st and goal from the 20, the Texans settled for a 28 yard Nick Novak field goal.
- The Texans drove the ball to the Chicago 5 after an early third quarter interception by Andre Hal. But a Jeff Allen hold on first and goal pushed the Texans into a 1st and goal from the 15. The Texans would kick another 28 yard field goal.
3 of those 4 drive killers were committed by the O-Line. Holds happen. They need to happen less.
Let’s just start with the obvious one: the three play touchdown drive by the Bears. Whatever prevent defense the Texans threw out there was like trying to stop Colts corner Antonio Cromartie from having kids (long after his Hard Knocks 15 seconds of shame, Cromartie got a vasectomy and STILL ended up having TWINS). A bomb to Alshon Jeffery (Andre Hal got outmuscled) then an easy post to Eddie Royal (both Kareem Jackson and were behind Royal in the end zone) just reeked of carelessness. And that drive was set up by Will Fuller doing the thing everyone was scared would be a problem for him: dropping a deep ball.
For now, Brock Osweiler’s role as Texans quarterback is this: to get the offense into the correct plays . . . and to not screw up. You know what that means. He’s a game manager.
There really isn’t a lot to criticize Osweiler on in this game, unless you’re a moron and think that he needs to deliver $72 Million worth of value every single Sunday. (Give it a rest Michael David Smith, Sam Bradford made just as much Sunday and didn’t even play) But if Osweiler’s role is to be game manager, he’s got to be a bit more careful when throwing the ball into a crowd. There weren’t many of those, but his lone interception and a few other tosses were a bit careless. [Rolls up newspaper] Bad Brock Osweiler. That’s a bad Brock Osweiler!
The worst part of Sunday? Brian Cushing’s injury. Cushing reportedly tore his MCL and will miss the next six weeks. I feel horrible for the guy. He’s been trying to fight back from injuries the last few years. He had a good training camp. And just a month ago he said he finally felt comfortable with his knee for the first time in a while:
Two years ago it felt like every two practices I had to get my knee drained or something done. None of that’s happening anymore and I’ll walk off the field and I’m looking forward to the next practice, the next workout and not worrying about my recovery so much or how my body is going to respond because I know how it is now.
Here’s hoping to a speedy recovery. Max Bullough will step in next to Bernardrick McKinney for Cushing. And he’s going to be tested quite a bit by the Chiefs this coming Sunday. Bullough may find himself covering either tight end Travis Kelce (6 catches for 74 yards in the Chiefs win over the Chargers) or one of their running backs (Spencer Ware and Charcandrick West had 13 combined receptions for 153 yards Sunday).
Paul Gallant hosts “Gallant at Night” – weeknights 7-11 PM on SportsRadio 610. He also hosts SportsZone Unfiltered – Fridays at 10 PM – on The Kube: Channel 57 and the Spoiler Alert Podcast – available weekly on iTunes and SportsRadio610.com. Get in touch with Paul via email or his facebook page.